How far do you push your child?

I’m asked all the time about how far a child should be pushed at Tennis, what age should they start and how often should they train a week.  The answer is not the same for everyone – it’s how far a child wants to be pushed.  The most important thing though is to instill a love for Tennis and take the long view.  Your child is not likely to become a Tennis Pro until 16-17 years old at the earliest, if they make it.  Between then and now, there is plenty of time for them to dig in their heels and refuse to play.  So, you need to inspire them continually to want to work hard at it, while still challenging them.

With children, you will often see a Tennis Coach playing various fun games with them that may seem unrelated to Tennis, but in fact they all serve some purpose in developing skills subconsciously.  I do this and mix this with some fairly advanced adult drills to challenge them – it’s surprising how quickly they respond to it and they can actually do them pretty well.

The other day, a young child was on the other court being worked very hard by a coach.  He wasn’t aggressive, but firm and the lesson was very serious.  One of my parents turned round and said she understood now what I meant – the little boy kept looking over at us, where we were working hard, but laughing and enjoying it at the same time.  My pupil is progressing quickly and also wants to be there – for me, that is a success!

What do you think?

Ideas for Summer Tennis Academy?

I’m just putting together my plans for this year’s Summer Tennis Academy and I am looking for ideas.  So, please, send in your thoughts ASAP.

Last year it comprised 2 hour group Tennis Lessons 3 times a week, split into the different playing levels (and ages) at Kato Pafos and Coral Bay.  The time slots would be 8-10am or 6-8pm.  It can be just for July, or also August as well.

Children from 6 years old upwards can attend.   I try to keep the price low, with a weekly and monthly price.

What do you think? Would you send your children to it?  Would you like it combined with anything else?

Madrid heats up as top seeds exit

Kei Nishikori

Kei Nishikori (Photo credit: Carine06)

So who thought Tennis was boring?  Come on confess!! 🙂

Madrid, one of the big warm-up tournaments before the French Open is in full swing and its red (thankfully not blue this year) clay has been claiming its victims. Grigor Dimitrov finally showed the level of play that he has been promising for the last few years and emerged covered in red dust as the victor in a fantastic battle with Djokovic, only to be brought down by Warwinka.  The Swiss player has been playing his best tennis this year and will be challenging Tsonga next.  Murray has scraped through most of his matches, seeming not quite at home on clay yet.  Considering he trained for several years in Spain, it’s surprising that it’s his worst surface, but we will see.  Maybe he will hit top form at the French Open or indeed this week where he will meet Berdych in the next round.  Tommy Haas showed some brilliant tennis before finally being beaten by Ferrer, who doesn’t seem to be fully recovered from his trouncing by Nadal earlier in the year.  So, who else has fallen? Federer was taken out by Nishikori, another upcoming player who has claimed several top scalps in the last year.  Nadal is still going strong.

In the womens draw, Sharapova and Williams are through to the quarters.  Robson, after brilliantly beating Radwanska, succumbed to Ivanovic.  Errani, Kerber and Kanepi are all through, but one big name is missing.  After her meltdown, Azarenka lost to Makarova.

Looking forward to today’s Tennis matches?  I am.

The Cyprus ATL Tournaments may not be quite as exciting, but they are still fun to play in and watch.  Paphos Tennis is growing.  Who knows, one day we may see a top ATP event in Cyprus!  I can’t wait!

ATL Tennis Tournament draws are up

The ATL amateur tennis tournament draws are up on

These are Tennis Tournaments in each of the major towns of Nicosia, Limassol and Pafos.  It’s a series of knockout Tennis Tournaments throughout the year.  You register online and have two weeks to play your match.  The finals are all held on one day, usually at Aphrodite Hills.atl ad 1

Anyone can take part and there are singles and doubles categories.  The singles is also split into levels:

ATL 50 – beginners (it may even be their first ever match)

ATL 100 – advanced beginners

ATL 250 – intermediates

ATL 500 – advanced players & coaches

It’s great fun and only € 12 per tournament, or less if you pay for the whole year.  This includes entry into 2 singles categories and the doubles 🙂

So, whatever your age or sex, hurry up and register for the next tournament.  If you would like to see the finals of the big ATL 1000, then that will be at 4pm on Saturday 18th May at Aphrodite Hills.

Come join the fun!

Are You Warming Up?

Be honest, how many of you never warm up before you play tennis?  I’ve done it myself many times, been in a hurry and not bothered, but I try now to do it every time.

I may be wrong, so please let me know your thoughts, but it seems that men are especially bad at it. It may be that I know more male tennis players, but it always seems to be them that get injured and every time I ask them, they admit that they didn’t warm up.

It is very important to warm up your muscles before submitting them to the punishment we mete out every time we play. At the beginning of every lesson, we do a short warm up with stretching exercises from top to toe and in some lessons we work further on fitness, flexibility and strength.

There is loads of advice out there for warm ups, so I’ve attached a few links below:

Seminars postponed

Most of you will be aware, but in case you are not, I have delayed the 2 Tennis Seminars SACHA SEMINAR A4 2PP V3that were scheduled for the 28th March due to the situation in Cyprus. I made the decision over a week before as I didn’t believe that it would be the first thing on people’s minds.

I will hopefully shortly be fixing a new date, probably in May, so please continue to register and I will email you updates:

Help your child succeed in sport

Improve your tennis performance over 15% flyer

Knowing how to handle your child is difficult sometimes

It may be sport, or it may be exams, or anything else in life, that causes your child to break into tears at losing, or become aggressive because they have won, or have a melt-down.  They may decide they suddenly don’t want to do the one thing they really loved. Coping with pressure is something we spend our whole lives learning to do, with varying success.  What if someone could advise us how to help our children navigate through this?

On the 28th March at 17.45 at Neapolis University in Pafos, Sacha Appleton Tennis SACHA SEMINAR A4 2PP V3Academy is hosting a seminar designed to help you specifically with this.  Entitled “How to help your child succeed in sport” and lasting around 1 hour, it will be presented by Elena Avraam, a BASES and AASP accredited Sports Psychologist.  She has worked with various Welsh National Teams (including Tennis, Squash, Volleyball, Football) and currently helps AEL football team in Cyprus and several junior tennis players who are competing abroad.

The seminar will be in English, with translation into Russian and Greek, if required and will cost € 10, including refreshments.

It will be followed by a separate hour and a half presentation for competitors aimed at helping improve tennis performance (or indeed any other sport) by 15% or more.  It will tackle performing under pressure, helping you identify your weaknesses and giving you tools to handle it.  Children can attend, but must be at least 10 years old and mature enough to understand and benefit from the performance training.  The cost or this will be € 15.  There will be discounts available for those wishing to attend both seminars, or for families who wish to attend together.

Places are limited and must be booked in advance.  To find out more, call me on 99 329107, or email

A Winning Mentality

Andy Murray

Andy Murray (Photo credit: Carine06)

How many times have you watched a tennis match and been frustrated by your hero’s lack of mental strength?  When they choke at a big point, or seem to be playing really well, then suddenly lose it.  Or, they come out on court for an important match and never really seem there, or seem scared.  If you’re British, it often seems like it’s a disease that’s particularly our own, but its not.

To take a British example, look at Andy Murray.  He never seemed to quite make it and I would be the first to say it was not his lack of tennis skill, rather his mental strength that was letting him down.  In fact, he has admitted it himself that working with a psychologist has freed his mind up to win.

It’s not just the pros that sufferer this problem though.  Are you like me, that you never play as well in a match as you do in practice?  Well, working with a sports psychologist when I visited the JC Ferrero academy in Spain has begun to change that – I’m still not there one hundred percent, but just a few tricks of the trade have made a big difference.  I would go so far as to say that it if you get your mental game in place, then you have already one the match.

When I returned to Cyprus, I sought out an expert here and eventually found one by accident.  Elena Avraam is a BASES and AASP accredited sport and exercise psychology consultant.  Now we are working on our first seminar here in Pafos.

So, make a date in your diary for the 28th March, when you can join us at Neapolis University to learn more about how to add at least another 15% to your performance 🙂  It’s open to everyone.

2012 – A great year for tennis

So, the 2012 season has drawn to a close and it has been quite a year. Serena Williams has come back in style and finished at number 3 – quite a feat after wvwerything she’s been through.  The 2 screamers, Azarenka and Sharapova, are 1st and 2nd respectively and we have seen some fantastic matches like the Kerber vs Azarenka one which was phenomenal.  The defending that Kerber did was amazing and she very nearly clinched it.  Women’s tennis has come a long way and is great to watch.  I bet viewing figures are way up for women’s tennis.

In the men’s, the competition was poorer for Nadal’s absence, but we saw Andy Murray claim first the Olympic Gold and then his first Grand Slam at last.  Great stuff – love his return of serve.  Djokovic still came out on top, but didn’t dominate like last year.  Federer regained some of his top form and Ferrer and DelPo provided some great opposition.

Here in Cyprus, the level is improving, but on the women’s side, we still don’t have enough competitors.  So, if you want to compete, even if youare a beginner, call me and let’s get to work training you!

So, now, is the time to plan and prepare for next season.  What does that involve?  Find out more in my next post on preparation.

Top ATP Experience

English: Miles Maclagan during Hopman Cup 2010...

English: Miles Maclagan during Hopman Cup 2010 as Andy Murray’s coach. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Last week, I gained a really good insight into coaching at the top level. I attended the 1 week Tennis Course with Miles Maclagan at Aphrodite Hills.  Who is Miles Maclagan?  He was the coach for Andy Murray and Marcos Baghdatis.  So, a top level ATP coach.

Aimed at players, the course nevertheless was useful from a coaching perspective, although I have to admit I enjoyed improving my playing and dedicating 14 hours to it over the week 🙂

So what is the difference between a top ATP coach and normal Tennis Coaches? Well, from talking to Miles and being trained by him, I would say the basics remain the same.  It’s more a case of making small adjustments, doing many of the same drills and the major part is working on shot selection and tactics.

Overall I enjoyed the experience and believe it can only add to the coaching that I provide.  I’s also like to thank my pupils for their patience last week as the course disrupted the usual lessons, but I’m sure they agree that it was all in a good cause 🙂